Day 4. Bath’s Roman Baths and surrounding area

Our final day in Bath had come around all too quickly and after enjoying a delicious breakfast at the Hotel Indigo Bath we checked out of the hotel and set off to visit Bath’s number one attraction, namely its Roman Baths.

Breakfast at Hotel Indigo Bath
The delicious cooked breakfasts at Hotel Indigo Bath

The baths are located in the centre of Bath next to the abbey and are open daily between 09.00-22.00 (standard tickets £27.50 weekend, £25.50 weekdays including audio guides).  We collected our tickets from the Victorian reception hall which itself is beautiful with its rooftop dome decorated with images of the four seasons.

Roman Baths, Bath
The Roman Baths

This is where the Romans built a magnificent temple and bathing complex on the site of Britain’s only hot spring which still flows with hot water today.  The Roman Baths are below modern day Bath street level and extend under ground level beneath adjacent streets.  The main features of the complex include the Roman Bath House, Roman Temple, Sacred Spring and finds from the Roman Baths.

Statues surrounding the Roman Baths in Bath
Statues of Roman Emperors surround the upper rim of the Great Bath

We began our self guided tour on the upper terrace which overlooks the Great Bath.  It was an impressive sight taking our first look at the bath’s centrepiece which is lined with statues of Roman emperors.

The Great Bath, Roman Baths, Bath
The Great Bath

We then moved down to the edge of the steaming Great Bath itself and gazed in wonderment at where people would have bathed in Roman times.  The magnificent pool is 1.6 metres deep and was in daily use for 400 years.  Actor characters are dressed as real people who lived and worked there 2,000 years ago and help to bring the Baths to life, being happy to answer questions and to pose for photos.

Character actors at the Roman Baths, in Bath
Character actors at the Great Bath

Roman bathing was based around the practice of moving through a series of heated rooms culminating in a cold plunge pool at the end.  It rarely involved swimming but instead the Romans would luxuriate in a tub of hot water in the hottest room known as the Caldarium.

Roman bath drinking water, Bath
Warm drinking water from the hot spring at the Roman Baths

We then explored the smaller bath areas, including the museum and the sacred spring which produces 240,000 gallons of water each day at a temperature of 46 degrees Celsius.  Before leaving, we tasted the famous spa water which contains 43 minerals and has attracted visitors to the city for centuries for its curative purposes.  Visiting the Roman Baths is a memorable experience and a ‘must see’ for first time visitors to the city.

Sally Lunn's, Bath
Sally Lunn’s in Bath

Located nearby is Sally Lunns, a bakery and cafe which is home to the regional speciality Bath bun.  There’s a small museum in the basement comprising of one room which displays the original kitchen used by the legendary young Huguenot baker Sally Lunn who created her first buns in Georgian times.  A Sally Lunn is part bread, part bun and part cake, tasting rather like a brioche and is a local delicacy.

Bath at Work Museum, Bath
The Bath at Work Museum

There was then just one more of Bath’s museums that we wished to visit before leaving the city, that of Bath at Work.  This lesser known museum is tucked away just behind the Assembly Rooms and was established in 1978.  It consists of a reconstruction of the 19th century engineering and soft drinks business of Jonathan Burkett Bowler which was founded in 1872 (Standard admission £10).

Inside the Bath at Work Museum
Inside the Bath at Work Museum

The main exhibition recreates the offices, ironmongery, cabinet maker’s workshop and bottling plant of J.B. Bowler’s just as it would have been until it ceased operating in the 1960’s.  The museum is packed with exhibits including machinery, tools and bottles and provides an insight into the industrial heritage of the city.  Other galleries focus on the city’s history with a cafe on its upper floor.

Guildhall Market, Bath
The Guildhall Market Hall

We then decided to take one final walk along the riverside and on our way popped into the Guildhall Market, an attractive small indoor market hall which first opened in 1863.  It contains an assortment of stalls and cafes most of which seemed to be aimed at tourists with their gifts and souvenirs.

Pulteney Bridge and weir, Bath
Pulteney Bridge and weir

On leaving the market by its other door we just needed to cross the road to reach the river and Pulteney bridge.  There are lovely views from here of the sweeping horseshoe shaped weir and of the bridge which was built by Richard Adam in 1769, one of only a handful of shop lined bridges in the world.

Parade Gardens, Bath
The Parade Gardens

Close to the bridge lie the Parade Gardens (admission £2).  The flowerbeds here are rated as among the finest in the country with the gardens having been former gold award winners in the RHS Britain in Bloom competition.

Lacock Abbey
Lacock Abbey

It was then back to the car to begin our journey home but after bidding farewell to beautiful Bath we had more plans for the afternoon.  Located in Wiltshire just 35 minutes by car from Bath is the National Trust owned Lacock Abbey and village.  Standard admission is £15 and free for National Trust members.  We parked in a large pay and display car park located between the village and abbey and decided to explore the abbey first.

Lacock Abbey cloister
Lacock Abbey cloister

Lacock Abbey started life as an abbey and convent until the dissolution of the monasteries when the estate became privately owned.  The abbey was founded in the 13th century and we were able to view its medieval cloister along with several rooms, most with vaulted ceilings.

The Great Hall, Lacock Abbey
The Great Hall

The abbey is famous for its photographic links as it was here that William Henry Fox Talbot once lived.  He was a Victorian pioneer of photography and inventor of the photographic negative.

The oriel window at Lacock Abbey where the first negative photo was taken
The oriel window at Lacock Abbey where the first negative photo was taken

It was a tiny image no bigger than a postage stamp of this oriel window at Lacock Abbey that made photographic history.  On a sunny day back in August 1835 his on-going experiments with light and chemistry created the correct formula that would fix an image to paper in what was to become known as a photo negative.

Lacock VIllage, Wiltshire
Lacock Village, Wiltshire

Outdoors we explored the surrounding gardens and courtyard outbuildings before wandering along to view the charismatic small village.

Characterful homes in Lacock Village
Characterful homes in Lacock Village

The village has been the filming location for many films and television programmes including the BBC 1995 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice.  It looks much the same as it would have done 200 years ago with its rows of pretty timber framed houses and small shops and is certainly worthy of a visit if you are in the vicinity.

Bowood House, Wiltshire
Bowood House

Another interesting place to visit located just five miles from Lacock near to Chippenham is Bowood House and Gardens (Standard admission £15.20, open April-October).  Privately owned, it is the home of the Marquis and Marchioness of Lansdowne and set within 100 acres of gardens designed by Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown, Britain’s most famous garden landscape designer.

Bowood House and Gardens, Wiltshire
Sculptures in the extensive grounds

As it was 4.30 p.m. by the time we arrived at Bowood we were a few minutes too late to be able to tour the house.  Instead, we viewed it from the outside and enjoyed exploring its grounds as they remain open in summer until 6.00 p.m.

Gardens of Bowood House, Wiltshire
Beautiful gardens surround the house

Highlights of its parkland setting include its arboretum, lakeside Doric temple and cascade.  We followed the path to the rocky cascade which was pleasant to view but was not in full force due to the recent lack of rain.

The Cascade at Bowood House and Gardens, Wiltshire
The Cascading waterfall

Strolling beside the lake was so nice and it would be an idyllic spot to sprawl out on a travel rug and enjoy a picnic on a warm, sunny day.

The lake at Bowood House and Gardens
We strolled beside the large lake

Hopefully, we’ll have an opportunity to return sometime to look inside the house as I’m sure it would be very grand and a lovely place to see.

Narrowboats moored at Caen Hill Locks near Devizes
Narrowboats moored at Caen Hill Locks near Devizes

The car park was almost empty by the time we returned and looking at our map we couldn’t resist making one final stop at Caen Hill Locks.  This flight of locks on the Kennet and Avon canal near Devizes is a feat of 18th century engineering.  We parked close to the top of the locks so it was quite a lengthy walk downhill to the bottom.  We wanted to view the locks from there so that we could take a photo looking back up at the flight.  Even though we’d had a busy day and already walked a lot we wouldn’t have missed viewing this spectacle as we were passing nearby.

Caen Hill Locks near Devizes
Caen Hill Locks near Devizes

The longest flight of 16 locks was engineer John Rennie’s solution to climbing the very steep hill in Devizes.  The locks and ponds were the last stretch of the Kennet and Avon canal to be built in 1810 and form part of a longer 29 lock flight at Devizes all within a two mile stretch.  This is one of the longest continuous flights of locks in the country and is designated a Scheduled Ancient Monument with the same level of protection as Stonehenge.

Caen Hill Locks, Wiltshire
The flight of locks at Caen Hill

Caen Hill Locks are considered to be one of the seven wonders of the waterways.  We have already had the pleasure of visiting two of these other masterpieces and you can read my blog posts on them, they are the Anderton Boat Lift and the Bingley Five Rise LocksHopefully we’ll also get around to visiting the remaining wonders of the waterways before too long and perhaps taking a narrowboat holiday too!

This brought to an end our four day visit to Bath, Somerset and Wiltshire which I hope you have enjoyed reading.  With the region’s scenic beauty and the varied selection of attractions and activities on offer, it’s a delightful part of the country to spend a few days.

During our visit we were guests of Visit Bath and the Hotel Indigo Bath and as always, all views and opinions are entirely my own.

 

If you have enjoyed reading this post, you may also like:

A weekend in Stratford-upon-Avon

Cheltenham: Sudeley Castle and Winchcombe

 

If you use Pinterest please consider sharing and pinning the image below:

The Roman Baths, Bath

 

46 thoughts on “Day 4. Bath’s Roman Baths and surrounding area

  1. I was wondering about the name “Bath” 😉. I like the statues of the Roman emperors surrounding the Great Bath. And how interesting is the history of photography at Lacock Abbey – I wonder how many photos were taken over the years at that window? And lovely towards the end of your trip to have a stroll in that beautiful garden and seeing the flight of locks at Caen Hill. Thanks for a lovely tour in Bath and surroundings Marion – another series that I enjoyed very much 🌸.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes Bath is is all about its famous Roman Baths which are so wonderful to see. We arrived on a Monday morning soon after they had opened so it was lovely and quiet to look around then. The rest of the day was interesting too, visiting Lacock Village and the home of the photographic negative, then the flight of locks. I adored it all. Thanks so much for your continued interest in my blog. Marion

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Gorgeous photos and what a lot you did in a day. Lacock Abbey is one of my favourite places in England and the Roman Baths look amazing. I remember eating a Sally Lunn bun back in 2006 with my mum as our first solo ‘girls’ trip’ – happy memories 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m doing my weekend reading catch-up with this series on Bath. Thanks for taking me back to the land of my childhood summers. I have some fond memories of the Roman Baths, the Royal Crescent where I often passed, Pulteney Bridge, but I was too young to explore beyond the facades and this really makes me want to reconnect with this lovely city. Thank you very much for this interesting series.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. The Roman Baths are the reason why I want to go to Bath! Such an iconic site to see in person…I hope to make a visit there sometime next year, perhaps as a day trip from London. Glad you had a wonderful time in the city, and I look forward to your next extended weekend away!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks Rebecca. Bath can quite easily be visited for a day trip from London if you don’t have time to stay overnight. Bristol, just 15 minutes away by train is also very interesting having SS Great Britain moored by the quay to explore. Lots of nice things for you to look forward to.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. You do know how to fill the last day of your vacation trips Marion. The history of the Roman Baths must have been so amazing to see. Lots of museums and other sights to stop at on your way home. Thanks for sharing and have a great Saturday. Allan

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you so much for your continued interest in my blog Marcus and that this series of posts featuring Bath brought back fond memories for you. Hope you’ve enjoyed a lovely summer break. One day I’ll hopefully make it to Genoa (Mark was sailing around there a few weeks ago!).

      Liked by 2 people

      1. You are welcome! Oh it would be sure fun to meet on the Streets of Genoa as well. From our place we see several incoming Ryan Air planes each day, there must be good connections. Next Summer, Genoa is the finish line for the Volvo Ocean Race world circumnavigation sailing race, so maybe something for you and Mark to enjoy!

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.